Beet Juice and Endurance
Andrew Jones, at the University of Exeter shared some interesting findings in 2011 regarding beet juice and endurance. His group performed a study of eight male cyclists, who consumed approximately two cups of beet juice, which is naturally high in nitrate. A control group consumed the same amount of currant cordial juice, which has very low levels of nitrate.
After a variety of low-intensity and high-intensity cycling tests, cyclists in the beet juice drinking group were able to cycle an average of 16 minutes longer. Findings also found these men had lower resting blood pressure. But, why is that?
Ultimately, the nitrate in beet juice is the cause of this improvement. The flow of nitrates help your mitochondria produce ATP, the fuel and energy needed for your muscles during exercise. This translates to increased oxygen uptake extending time-to-exhaustion, which allows endurance athletes to push longer and harder.
Beet Juice and Mouthwash
Now, this is where it gets even trickier. According to Active.com, “While it’s not totally clear how it works, the authors suspect that when dietary nitrate turns into nitric oxide in the body, it reduces the amount of oxygen required to perform exercise.” However, new studies by same group at Exeter have found that mouthwash may inhibit the transformation of dietary nitrate into nitric oxide.
Dietary nitrate is turned into nitric oxide through bacteria in the salivary gland, via secretion to the saliva. Because mouthwash is meant to remove oral bacteria, the most important step in this process is blocked. Without this first step, your body won’t benefit from the beet juice’s high nitrate concentration.
Beet Juice and Your Workout
While the data is very interesting, it is only the first step in learning more about the benefits of beet juice and how mouthwash can affect that. So, to see the benefits of beet juice on your performance, you can take necessary precautions until further studies are done.
In a similar study, released in the journal Hypertension, the effects of beet juice were seen almost immediately, within an hour, and were strongest after two or three hours. With this in mind, you can avoid using mouthwash before a big race, allowing the nitrate process to happen.
At the end of the day, these findings are very new and have yet to be tested against other opposing studies. However, natural beet juice is beneficial for your body in a number of other ways, such as promoting blood flow and regulation blood sugar, so seeing whether this improves your personal endurance will be beneficial regardless. While you shouldn’t count on beating your PR from beet juice alone, why not give it a shot?